Israel Impressions Part III: Dead Sea and Beyond

The Dead Sea has the world saltest body of water, with 34% salinity! It is 430 meters below sea level, which makes it the lowest elevation on Earth.  And today the water level is still reducing in an alarming rate, by three feet each year.  Dry land can be spotted especially at the southern portion of the sea.

dsc00288-1.jpg

The fact that this extraordinary water may some day be gone is hard for anyone to stomach.  What can we DO?  We can’t just sit there blame on the climate change and global warming, right?

DSC00299 (1)

Have you seen a picture of someone floating in the Dead Sea?  I used to roll my eyes, couldn’t imagine floating in the Sea until my own trip to the Dead Sea, yes, you could float, effortlessly!!  However it was recommended you keep the float time within 15 minutes and take a fresh water shower immediately after.

Driving along the west shore of the Dead Sea, we saw canals being dug, palm trees planted, and hotels built.  The people living in this salty land have definitely earned my respect and praise.  They are making history and changing the soil one section at a time.

Mount Sodom is a hill on the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The whole mountain is made of salty rocks.  Lucky us, we found a huge chunk of salt rock with beautiful layers.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. Matthew 5:13”.

Jericho, the oldest city in the world, is located at the northern border of the Dead Sea.  There we visited the ruin of Jericho, and from there overlooked the Mount Temptation where Jesus was tested in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-11). Can you see the Israelites matching in silence around the tall city walls daily? Can you hear their loud shouts at the seventh day which bring down the walls?

The story of Masada was about an epic battle.  In 70-73 CE, Jewish rebels took over the fortress (used to be Herod’s extravagant palace in the desert) against Roman siege.  The ending was a heartbrokenly sad one.  All 960 men and women chose massive suicide to keep their dignity, refused to be slaves of their enemies.  Today it is a tradition for young soldiers to come to Masada to swear in when they graduate from the academy.

At Qumran near the Dead Sea, the first ancient scrolls (manuscripts dated back two thousand years!) were discovered in a cave by a shepherd boy in 1947.  In the following years, more books in more caves were discovered one after another.  Up to now, pieces from every book of the Bible with the exception of Book of Esther were discovered, including a complete Book of Isaiah.  The cave #4 was the easiest one to access and provided the most scrolls.

If you just visit the Southern District of Israel, you may think the country is made of desert land! That is not true. Although the nation of Israel is tiny, only 8500 square miles,  the land is very diverse.

map east of israel

When we were in the Northern District, Tel Dan Nature Reserve–the origin of the Jordan River, we walked along spring water and green forest.  And don’t forget the fresh water lake–the Sea of Galilee.

This trip has also left me everlasting impressions of the people in Israel.  Smart, tough, driven, they seem able to survive anywhere in any given situation.

Kibbutz is like the realization of communist ideal on Earth.  And currently they have more than 270 this type of communities in Israel.  In the Kibbutz we visited we were so impressed with their irrigating system–each banana tree was monitored electronically, watered and nourished according to its individual need! What about that!!

IMG_3137

A fruit stand by the street in Jerusalem.  Can you see the huge bananas and pomegranates the size of baby’s head?  Today Israel is the second largest high tech nation, second to US, and a fruit–exporting country.  The land has slowly and surely come again to her original state, flowing with milk and honey.  Salute!

One more thing before I let you go.  Young men and women serve in the army after high school for three and two years, respectively.  Only after the service they go to college with free tuition, of course.  They carry their weapon, OPENLY.  No comment…

Author: aihuacy

We learn from our travel. The different cultures, local food and new things stimulate and inspire us. We are compelled to share our experiences. Sometimes we wish we would have done things differently. Publishing our travel journey in this blog not only shares our fun adventures, we wish you would learn from our missteps and make your next vacation more enjoyable. "讀萬卷書不如行萬里路" is a Chinese Proverb, literally means "Reading ten thousand books don't quite match up travelling ten thousand miles". Indeed, a man who travels knows far more!